LeBron James was back. He looked very good. It wasn't enough for the Cavs.
A LeBron James three point play brought the Cavs within three with under a minute to go. A key defensive stop that would have resulted in Cavs ball was nullified when James Jones, playing over Kevin Love and Shawn Marion, got beat by P.J. Tucker for the rebound. The Suns wrapped up the game with defense and free throws. 107 Suns, 100 Cavaliers.
Markieff Morris, rapidly improving coming off a contract extension with Phoenix, tortured the Cavs all night long en route to 35 points on 21 shots and seven rebounds. It didn't matter who the Cavs put on him. It didn't matter where Morris was on the floor. He hit threes, he converted at the rim. He was unstoppable from midrange. Every Suns starter finished in double figures. The Cavs didn't start defending until the middle of the third quarter. A huge run by the Cavs got them a fourth quarter lead from 19 points down, but too much energy was expended.
Kyrie Irving appeared to defer early to LeBron James and struggled all game. This was probably his worst game of the season. He turned it over, he missed shots. He's been good all year, but a better effort probably gets the Cavaliers a win. Nine points on 14 shots, eight turnovers, six assists. Kevin Love was similarly disappointing, and didn't see the floor in the fourth quarter. Nine points on 11 shots, and he was beat for several rebounds. Morris had a field day.
Timofey Mozgov was similarly awful. He was in foul trouble for most of the game, and Tristan Thompson was solid in his place. 10 points on five shots for Thompson, but he could have pulled down more defensive rebounds. Still, hard not to notice the defense improve with his minutes in the second half.
James was the star for the Cavs though. 33 points on 18 shots, five assists to five turnovers, 8-13 free throw shooting. He was ridiculously good, and was also rusty. He got hit with some hard fouls, but he played well all game.
In the future, this game might be looked at positively. The Suns are a good Western Conference team and the Cavs were on the road. LeBron James was fantastic, and he is easily the Cavs most important player. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were bad, and that's not likely to continue. On the other hand, David Blatt lost confidence in Kevin Love for the second time this season, leaving him on the bench for the fourth quarter. J.R. Smith shot the Cavs back in the game, but should he be taking 14 three pointers in a game?
The Cavs have a long ways to go, and they have lots of calendar time. Do they have practice time? The schedule doesn't get much easier until the end of the month. This is going to be interesting.